McShane confident Tyrone hurlers can compete at higher level

Tyrone manager Michael McShane and his sons get some pictures taken with the cup after beating Armagh during the National Hurling League Division 3A Final match at Owenbeg on Saturday Picture: Margaret McLaughlin.

TYRONE manager Michael McShane is confident his newly promoted hurlers can prosper at the higher level next season.

The Red Hands are on the way up, following their triumph in the NHL Division 3A final at the weekend, and return to Division Two for the first time in 20 years.

Their 2-21 to 2-19 win over Ulster rivals Armagh in the decider at Owenbeg capped an unbeaten run through the League campaign.

“I'd like to think that this is stage one of the journey and they can push on and go to another level and compete there,” said McShane.

“You have to set yourself milestones and targets and the number one target here was to get promoted.”

Now Tyrone switch the focus to their bid to reach a second successive Nicky Rackard Cup final.

They cross the Irish Sea to take on Warwickshire in the opening round this weekend, but for McShane, the main priority for the season has been achieved, and anything further will be a bonus.

For me and for the players, promotion has been the priority ahead of the Nicky Rackard.

“The Nicky Rackard is great because you get to go to Croke Park and play in a final, but for being promoted and play league games next year at a higher level is crucial.

“We have achieved that primary objective and have got to be very happy with that. Now it's a case of looking forward to the Nicky Rackard and see if we can get repeated success.”

There were anxious moments in the closing stages of Saturday's League final, as the Orchard men fought back from ten points behind to narrow the gap to two.

A late free gave them a chance to go for goal, but Dean Gaffney's effort was kept out and Tyrone survived, with Damian Casey's 1-10 haul ensuring the title was theirs.

“I was worried when Armagh were standing over the last free because you didn't know where it would end up and we didn't want it in the back of the net because that would have been game over for us. Up until that I was fine.”

At difficult stages of the contest, the Red Hand players displayed maturity and composure under pressure, responding to the manager's promptings on game management.

“We've been trying to work with the players about not panicking and going away from the process of how the team plays and what we want them to do. Sometimes at the beginning they'd go back to bad habits, but they stuck with it here which was great.

“They are learning and hopefully by doing that they'll know that success comes. Games aren't always going to run with you. We were very slick in the first 25-30 minutes before their goal probably breathed life into them and they came out fired up in the second half.

“A good thing was that our lads didn't panic. We kept the scoreboard ticking over and kept ourselves ahead and that worked for us.”

“We'll now go into the Nicky Rackard and see if we can repeat this success.

“Warwickshire is the first game and then there's a game the following three weekends. It's relentless.”

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